Do you remember the first moment you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?
For me it was the the summer of 1980 while working at a Christian church camp. I remember sitting around the campfire singing praise songs. It didn’t take long for me to learn them, as the lyrics drew me closer to God. It felt like the songs were especially written for me.
One of my favorite songs, “For Those Tears I Died,” has a soothing tune and the chorus goes like this:
“And Jesus said, Come to the water, stand by my side, I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied. I felt every teardrop when in darkness you cried, And I strove to remind you, that for those tears I died.”
I loved this song and quickly memorized the words. It reminds me that Jesus will always be with me no matter what happens in my life. I learned to play the song on my guitar, as I have enjoyed singing the song since I was saved.
Do you have a song that connects you to your salvation?
Can a Christian Actually Love God and Be Gay?
I attended my first Gay Christian Network Conference this month. It was like coming home to visit my family. I felt welcomed and everyone was smiling and freely sharing hugs. The conference was similar to the Children’s Ministry Conferences I’ve attended over the years. There were breakout workshops to attend, keynote speakers, vendor booths, prayer, and worship. The band played one of my favorite songs during the main session. I happily sang the lyrics from memory without looking once at the words on the screen.
A book titled, For Those Tears I Died was sitting on one of the vendor tables. I was surprised to see the woman pictured on the back of the book, standing right in front of me. I immediately purchased a copy and ask Marsha Stevens-Pino to sign it. It was an added bonus to find out that Marsha composed the praise song we had just sung by the same title.
In conversation, Marsha shared her latest Uber experience. Being an Uber driver myself, I was curious to hear about it. She told me she took an Uber ride from the Pittsburgh Airport to her hotel. When the driver asked what she was doing in town, she explained that she was attending the Gay Christian Network Conference.
He laughed, “Gay and Christian, huh? Well, there’s two words I hardly ever hear together.”
During the 35-minute drive, Marsha shared her life story and how she came to accept herself as a gay Christian. She confessed about her depression and drug addictions, even sharing why she contemplated suicide. Several concerned friends took her to a church on the beach, and it was there that she accepted Christ. After an unfullfilling marriage, Marsha came out as a Lesbian when she was 64 years old. Despite what others may have thought, she has stayed true to her ministry by continuing to write and sing songs to spread God’s love to everyone, especially those in the gay and lesbian communities.
When the driver dropped her off he said, “Have a blessed conference.”
I guess people can change their minds about what it is to be a gay Christian if they take the time to engage in a conversation.
God Loves All Christians No Matter Who You Are
Marsha’s songs speak to the hearts of all Christians, whether you are gay, straight, Republican, Democrat, rich or poor.
Read this excerpt from her book sharing how the song came about.
From Chapter 6, For Those Tears I Died:
I set about strategizing how in the world I could talk to my friends about Jesus. I thought about how much music and poetry had meant to me and how my first reaction when I felt the joy of the Lord was to sing every snippet of hymn or choir song about God I could remember. Then I closed my eyes and took myself back two weeks to that first moment with Jesus.
I didn’t have my journal with me, so I grabbed the back of an envelope and wrote down what was important to me in those first moments, how everything had changed, how I sort of understood better when Jesus said He’d died to take away the tears of a broken-hearted child, how He’d been there every night, how humble I was to see that I was special to Jesus.
At that point I realized that the most important thing was that no matter what question I ever had in my life, the answer was always going to be the same – come back to that first love. I had heard Him say stand by me at that river, there’s always going to be enough water here to quench your thirst.
Marsha reminds us of the closeness each of us has with God as He is always within reach.
With the popularity of the song, Marsha became known as the mother of Contemporary Christian music. She began her ministry with the group “Children of the Day.” They toured all over the country and were known as the Jesus Movement. The festivals where they sang, included the Second Chapter of Acts, Andrae Crouch and the Disciples, and even Johnny Cash. Since the first recording, her song has been translated into 12 languages and sung by thousands all over the world.
Christian Century magazine said this about her, “Marsha Stevens-Pino is contemporary Christianity’s worst nightmare: a Bible-believing, God-fearing, Jesus loving lesbian Christian.”
Since she was 16, Marsha continues to love God and follow Christ while leading others to Him as well.
Why You Need to Read A Book Like This
I admire Marsha for being able to stand up for what she believes. She is not discouraged by the opinions of others.
Part of her story is a reflection of my own — though I’m not a singer/songwriter. I did withstand a rough marriage which ended in a divorce. When I came out as gay, my love for God didn’t waver. I agree with Marsha that people need to hear the simple message of God’s love for everyone.
Marsha Stevens-Pino and her book, For Those Tears I Died, will go down in history. It is an inspiring story about a Christian woman who devoted much of her life to sharing Christ with others.
You will find comfort in knowing you are not alone in your struggles or commitment to serving the Lord. Others have similar experiences. As your compassion for Marsha expands, your compassion for yourself will too, which will draw you closer to the loving arms of God. The book also provides an informative history of contemporary Christian music and how it came about. You’ll recognize many of the artists that Marsha had the privilege to share the stage with.
And if you can’t see yourself reading a book like this, I encourage you to reconsider. Reading For Those Tears I Died will help you realize that gay Christians are not really that different than other Christians. Your understanding will prepare you to help them know God’s love and maybe even save a life.
Do you think a greater understanding of others, whether they are a gay Christian or someone from a different ethnic group or country, will allow us to be better servants of Christ?
Listen to the song to be reminded again of your first moment with Jesus.
You can learn more about Marsha, her life story and her mission here.
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